Where The Dogs Are

From spas to fine restaurants, Greater Palm Springs is for pet lovers



Lake, a Rhodesian ridgeback, at The Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace in Palm Desert.

Photography by Raymond Shadman

The Palm Springs area reigns supreme when it comes to welcoming pets. Whether your four-legged companion prefers being pampered, playing sports, or just tagging along for a night out, the desert is full of pet-friendly hot spots.

THE SPORTING LIFE

2 Fast 4 Paws Flyball Racing Team

Excited barks echo as team members line up at the flyball runback area, bodies quivering with anticipation for the race. All eyes are on the starting lights, with every dog raring for the chance to sprint 51 feet over four hurdles, hit an angled box sideways with all four paws, catch a tennis ball in midair when it pops out of the box, and hightail it back to the starting line with the ball in its mouth — all in a matter of seconds.

Flyball is “drag racing for dogs,” says Brenda Mejia, founder of the Palm Springs-based 2 Fast 4 Paws Flyball Racing Team. “It’s basically controlled chaos.”

It sounds tricky, but any dog with the physical capacity can do it with training and dedication, Mejia says. Her flyball club — the only team between Phoenix and Orange County — welcomes anyone who wants to learn. “It’s an activity that you can do with your dog that is a health benefit to your dog and you,” she says. “It’s not about how fast your dog is. It’s about going and having fun with your dog in a positive, fun, team environment.”

Two sets of dogs, four on each team, race each other in a relay, Mejia explains. The start dog is lined up in the racing lane and a referee sets off the lights — like in drag racing — and the dogs hurtle one-by-one up a narrow lane to get the ball. “They turn, come back over those four jumps, and the next dog goes. Those two dogs are actually meeting and passing each other, nose to nose, within inches.”

As the dogs race, their handlers run by them, encouraging them. “It’s a dance for the handlers,” Mejia says, “because you have four people and four dogs in this little bitty lane!”

The world record is 14.7 seconds, but dogs may race in several different divisions, based on age and speed, so each has an opportunity to compete.

“The biggest thing about flyball is the bonding that goes on between the dog and the handler, and that it’s a team effort. It’s the only dog sport that is a team of dogs and people,” Mejia says. Members travel to as many as a dozen weekend tournaments a year, sporting team T-shirts and rooting on everyone’s dogs. Tongue-in-cheek competitor names include the Woof Gang, the Flying Aces (out of Las Vegas), The Wooly Bullys, Pawdemonium, the Ball Haulers, Touch ’N’ Go, and Canine Mutiny.

The team spirit is an essential part of the sport. “It’s the camaraderie of being around people that love dogs as much as you, and it’s a team effort to train every dog, and we’re all involved,” she says. “So it’s more of a lifestyle.”

2 Fast 4 Paws trains weekly at the Palm Springs Police Department, College of the Desert, and in Beaumont, with members hailing from Indio to Alta Loma. A six-week initial course is $75, and Mejia offers free flyball training to any dog adopted from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Team members then pay annual dues.

Mejia, a longtime trainer whose own rescued dog Oingo has won flyball titles, also works with local shelters and rescue groups, providing demonstrations and promoting responsible pet ownership, such as spaying and neutering. In fact, most of her team members are rescues.

The rewards from flyball are visible, she says: “Three-fourths of the dogs that come to me don’t know what flyball is. When they start training, we couldn’t hold them. They wouldn’t chase the ball, they wouldn’t pick up a ball, and they wouldn’t interact with their owners as far as playing tug. And now they’re all racing and they have confidence. They come in, they know their job, and they’re happy. It’s like we just show them the way.”

Call 2 Fast 4 Paws Flyball Racing Team at 760-325-5048, or visit www.2fast4paws.com. For general information on flyball, visit the United Flyball League at www.u-fli.com or the North American Flyball Association at www.flyball.org

DOG PARKS

Cahuilla Hills Park: Nearly 26 acres of undeveloped open space that serves as a trailhead for the Cahuilla Hills Trails System. 45825 Edgehill Drive, Palm Desert; 760-776-6450.

Civic Center Dog Park: Fenced 3/4 acre, offers shade, picnic tables, pooper-scoopers.and separate areas for small and large dogs. 43900 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert; 760-776-6450

Cap Homme/Ralph Adams Park: A 27-acre park with off-leash areas, picnic tables, and trails. 72500 Thrush Road; Palm Desert; 760-776-6450.

Freedom Dog Park: Part of a 26-acre neighborhood park with a creek for dogs and separate areas for large and small dogs. 77400 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert; 760-776-6450.

Fritz Burns Park: Lighted off-leash dog park open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Corner of Calle Sinaloa (Ave. 52) and Avenida Bermudas near the tennis courts, La Quinta; 760-777-7156.

Joe Mann Dog Park: Small but well-maintained park. 77810 California Drive, Palm Desert; 760-776-6450.

Mulligan Dog Park: Fenced dog areas, dog run, and benches. 45353 Van Buren St. (adjacent to Indio Animal Care Center), Indio; 760-391-4175.

Palm Springs Dog Park: Fully fenced, 1.6 acres with lawn, trees, awnings, drinking fountains, solar-powered lighting, and a designated area for small dogs. 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way (behind City Hall), Palm Springs; 760-323-8283.

Pioneer Park: Off-leash park open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. (not lighted). 45130 Seeley Drive, La Quinta; 760-777-7156.

University Dog Park: Fenced 2.5 acres with benches, shade, picnic pavilions, and separate areas for large and small dogs. 74802 University Park Drive, Palm Desert; 760-776-6450.

DOGGIES WHO DINE

Spencer’s Restaurant

Nestled into a quiet mountain nook with spectacular ambiance, Spencer’s Restaurant epitomizes Palm Springs’ midcentury-chic vibe. Its renowned patio, replete with shade trees and offering an unhurried vibe, is the perfect spot to dine in elegance with a canine companion, such as Roy (pictured), an off-duty member of Guide Dogs of the Desert. The multiple award-winning restaurant — named for owner Harold Matzner’s 110-pound Siberian husky — welcomes pets on the patio and offers a printed “petiquette” guide for diners. Dogs are welcome to see and be seen at breakfast, lunch, and dinner services; reservations are recommended but not required.

PET-FRIENDLY PATIOS

Bill’s Pizza 119 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-5571, www.billspizzapalmsprings.com

Café des Beaux Arts, 73640 El Paseo, Palm Desert; 760-346-0669, www.cafedesbeauxarts.com

Café Europa, 515 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Suite B9, Palm Springs; 760-835-5878, www.cafeeuropapalmsprings.com

Chipotle, 2465 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 1110, Palm Springs; 760-325-0346, www.chipotle.com

Citron Restaurant, Viceroy Hotel, 415 S. Belardo Rd., Palm Springs; 760-318-3005, www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/palmsprings

El Mirasol Cocina Mexicana, 140 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-323-0721, www.elmirasolrestaurants.com

Grill on Main, 78065 Main St., Old Town La Quinta; 760-777-7773, www.thegrillonmain.com

Hair of the Dog English Pub, 238 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-323-9890, www.thehairofthedog.net

HooDoo, Hyatt Regency Palm Springs, 285 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-9000, www.palmspringshyatt.com

Koffi, 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-2244, www.kofficoffee.com

La Brasserie, 78477 Hwy. 111, La Quinta; 760-771-4400, www.labrasserielaquinta.com

Le Vallauris, 385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 760-325-5059, www.levallauris.com

Maracas Restaurant, 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-9654, www.maracas-restaurant.com

Manhattan in the Desert, 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-3354, www.manhattaninthedesert.com

Matchbox, 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-6000, http://matchboxpalmsprings.com

Native Foods, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-0070, www.nativefoods.com

Nature’s Health Food and Café, 555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs; 760-323-9487, http://natureshealthfoodcafe.com

Peabody’s Cafe, 134 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-1877, www.peabodyscafepalmsprings.com

Pinzimini at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 760-328-5955, www.westin.com

Pomme Frite, 256 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-3727, www.pomme-frite.com

Purple Palm Restaurant and Bar, Colony Palms Hotel, 572 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-969-1818, www.colonypalmshotel.com

Ruby’s Diner, 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-406-7829, www.rubys.com

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, 401 Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 760-325-1199, www.shermansdeli.com

Spencer’s Restaurant, 701 W. Baristo Drive, Palm Springs; 760-327-3446, www.spencersrestaurant.com

Z Pizza, 73607 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-568-5405, http://stores.zpizza.com/palm-desert

POOLSIDE POOCHES

DogSpa Resort and Wellness Center

Daisy the golden retriever pads through the Lazy Dog Lounge on her way to DogSpa Resort and Wellness Center’s private dog park, complete with spectacular views of Mount St. Jacinto, trailed by her owner. They’re visiting for the day from Yucca Valley to take advantage of the resort’s mineral swimming pool and Jacuzzi, heated by a hot water well from Desert Hot Springs’ world-renowned aquifers.

At DogSpa, no place is off-limits for pets, including beds, sofas, and poolside.

The boutique resort, opened in 2011 by holistic veterinarian Dr. Paula Terifaj, strives to create a relaxing, intimate vacation experience for pets and their people.

“I’m redefining pet-friendly,” Terifaj says. “Probably the most unique experience that dogs are having here is that they’re really in a place that’s off-leash. They feel like they’re at somebody’s home, and they’re there with their owners. So the dogs here truly get to vacation, and they get to be wherever their owners are. The people that have come to stay with us haven’t had this experience before.”

The six-room resort — ranging from studios to double suites, with kitchens — features posh wellness rooms with filtered water, natural lighting, special air filtration, and magnetic beds at no extra charge. Terifaj offers pet wellness consultations, along with workshops for people on creating healthy lifestyles at home. There are no additional fees for pets to stay, no size or breed limitations, and as many as three dogs are welcome in each room.

Once people and their pets arrive, she says, they often don’t want to leave. “I see people that meet other couples here and they’ll spend two hours in the Jacuzzi talking with them, really getting to know people. Last week we had a man with an older dog, so I brought out one of my big pet beds and just set it there. He was sitting in the Jacuzzi and had his arm around his big old Lab just sprawled out on his pet bed. People are having the experience, and the dogs are just the benefactor of the whole thing.”

The resort also offers “Where Locals Go Loco” day spa specials for valley residents from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays through the end of summer. Visitors can take the waters and relax poolside with their dogs while noshing on yummy refreshments.

“People bond here because they’re talking about their dogs,” Terifaj says. “It never fails for people to get their phone out and start taking pictures of their dog around the pool. They just love it.”

The DogSpa Resort and Wellness Center is at 67840 Hacienda Ave., Desert Hot Springs; 760-600-0246. Visit www.dogsparesort.com

LATCHKEY DOGS

The Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace

It’s a day anyone would dream of: Pilates class, followed by a massage, a relaxing Klay-9 Ultra Luxury Treatment, and then a snooze in a plush private suite. At The Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace, pets enjoy the same amenities as their human counterparts in an ultra-luxurious setting.

The resort boasts an abundance of high-end services, including a recently added outdoor swimming pool with multiple play parks. On hot days, pets can romp in the indoor park, take a dip in the indoor heated pool, trot on the treadmills, or enjoy a deluxe grooming session. Frequent guests earn “Paw Miles,” entitling them to a free stay for every 10 visits.

Lori Weiner opened the facility in 2011 and continues to add new services to cater to her canine, feline, and avian clientele. “I’ll be doing a fitness camp for overweight dogs and dogs that need to get into shape,” she says. “I’m getting my clinical pet nutritionist license, and using that with our treadmills and our pool.” The resort also carries food, nutrition supplements, and Young Living Essential Oils — “everything that is for the promotion of the dogs’ health,” she says.

Other services include warm water pool therapy, essential oil Raindrop Therapy, and conformation, agility, flyball, and rally classes.

Barkingham’s day care is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with newly added “doggie night care.”

“If somebody is going out to dinner and they don’t want to leave their dog at home, they can play from 5 to 10:30 at night. We also offer overnight boarding and we have somebody here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, checking on all the dogs,” Weiner says.

Now that the outdoor pool is open, it’s party time, Weiner says. She recently hosted a pirate-themed poolside birthday celebration, with pirate patches and a three-tiered cake for dogs.

Pet wedding and memorial services at Barkingham are in the works as well.

The Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace is at 34550 Spyder Circle, Palm Desert; 760-537-1172. Visit www.thepethotelatbarkinghampalace.com

DAY CARE, PET SITTING, AND BOARDING FACILITIES

DogSpa Resort and Wellness Center, 67840 Hacienda Ave., Desert Hot Springs; 760-600-0246. www.dogsparesort.com

Doggie Dude Ranch, 53593 Jackson St., La Quinta; 760-460-1047; www.dssbykat.com

Dream Dogs (board and train program), 45090 Golf Center Parkway, Unit B, Indio; 760-899-7272; www.dreamdogs.com

Elite Pet Care (hotel pet sitting also available). 760-320-4710, 760-831-8995, 888-860-2084; www.elitepetcarepalmsprings.com

The Bed and Bisquit at Village Park, 77895 Avenida Montezuma, La Quinta; 760-564-3833; www.villageparkanimalhospital.com

The Canine Spa. 68766 Perez Road, Cathedral City; 760-328-0876; www.thecaninespa.com

The Grand Paw Pet Resort. 51750 Jackson St., Indio; 760-398-9900; www.thegrandpaw.com

The Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace, 34550 Spyder Circle, Palm Desert; 760-537-1172; www.thepethotelatbarkinghampalace.com

The Pet Spaw, 73905 Hwy. 111, Palm Desert; 760-346-3461; www.thepetspawpalmdesert.com

Valley Kennel, 49450 Jefferson St., Indio; 760-342-7311

Some veterinarian offices also offer boarding services. For a list of in-home pet sitters, visit www.petsit.com/locate or www.petsitters.org. Recommendations from vets, friends, neighbors, local shelters, or dog trainers are also good resources for finding pet sitters.

PET-FRIENDLY HOTELS

Pet policies and fees vary; always call ahead to confirm.

Alcazar Palm Springs, 622 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-318-9850. www.alcazarpalmsprings.com

A Place in the Sun, 754 San Lorenzo Road, Palm Springs; 760-325-0254. www.aplaceinthesunhotel.com

Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings

Best Western Date Tree Hotel, 81909 Indio Blvd., Indio; 760-347-3421. http://book.bestwestern.com

Best Western Inn at Palm Springs, 1633 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9177. www.bwpalmsprings.com

Best Western Plus Palm Desert Resort, 74695 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-4441. www.book.bestwestern.com

Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn, 175 S. Cahuilla Road, Palm Springs; 760-320-9346. www.casacody.com

Colony Palms Hotel, 572 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-969-1800. www.colonypalmshotel.com

Comfort Suites Palm Desert, 39585 Washington St., Palm Desert; 760-360-3337. www.comfortsuites.com

Doral Desert Princess Resort, 67967 Vista Chino, Cathedral City; 760-322-7000. www.doralpalmsprings.com

Embassy Suites Palm Desert, 74700 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-340-6600; http://embassysuites3.hilton.com

Garden Vista Hotel, 1875 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-320-7676.

Hilton Palm Springs, 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 760-320-6868. http://www.hilton.com/search/hi/us/ca/palm_springs

Hyatt Regency Suites Palm Springs, 285 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-9000. www.palmsprings.hyatt.com

Homewood Suites by Hilton, 36999 Cook St., Palm Desert; 760-568-1600. http://homewoodsuites3.hilton.com

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa, 44600 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells; 760-341-1000. www.indianwells.hyatt.com

Indian Palms Country Club and Resort, 48630 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-4444. www.indianpalms.com

Ivy Palm Resort and Spa, 200 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-320-0555. www.ivypalmresort.com

La Quinta Resort and Club, 49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta; 760-564-4111. www.laquintaresort.com

MiraMonte Resort and Spa, 45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells; 760-341-2200. www.miramonteresort.com

Parker Palm Springs, 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-770-5000. www.theparkerpalmsprings.com

Quality Inn Palm Springs, 1269 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-323-2775. www.qualityinn.com

Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa, 41000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 760-568-2727. www.rancholaspalmas.com

Residence Inn Palm Desert, 38305 Cook St., Palm Desert; 760-776-0050. www.marriott.com

Riviera Resort and Spa, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-327-8311. www.psriviera.com

San Giuliano Hotel, 375 W. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-799-1983. http://sangiulianohotel.com

Red Lion Inn and Suites, 69151 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 760-324-5939. www.redlion.com

Renaissance Palm Springs, 888 Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 760-322-6000. www.marriott.com

The Curve Palm Springs Hotel, 333 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-327-1211, 877-544-4446. www.curvepalmsprings.com

The Horizon Hotel, 1050 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-323-1858, 800-377-7855. www.thehorizonhotel.com

The Saguaro Palm Springs, 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-323-1711. www.jdvhotels.com

Viceroy Palm Springs, 415 S. Belardo Road, Palm Springs; 760-320-4117. www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/palmsprings

Villa Royale Inn (dogs only), 1620 S. Indian Trail, Palm Springs; 760-327-2314. http://villaroyale.com

Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 760-328-5955. www.westinmissionhills.com

COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL SHELTERS AND RESCUES

Animal Samaritans SPCA, 72307 Ramon Road, Thousand Palms; 760-343-3477, www.animalsamaritans.org

Coachella Valley Animal Campus, 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms; 760-343-3644, www.rcdas.org

Feral Alley Cats and Friends SPCA, 13595 Sarita Drive, Suite A, Desert Hot Springs; 760-309-2344, www.feralalleycatsandfriends.org

Humane Society of the Desert, 17825 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-329-0203, www.orphanpet.com

Loving All Animals, 73550 Alessandro Drive, Palm Desert; 760-776-9397, www.lovingallanimals.org

Palm Springs Animal Shelter, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave., Palm Springs; 760-416-5718, palmspringsanimalfriends.ning.com

Save A Pet, 67600 18th Ave., Desert Hot Springs; 760-329-8510, www.saveapetonline.org

The Furry Angel Foundation, 72877 Dinah Shore Drive, Suite 103, Rancho Mirage; 760-831-6166, www.thefurryangelfoundation.com

The Pet Rescue Center, 83496 Ave. 51, Coachella; 760-398-7722, www.petrescue.biz

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